Summer Solstice – Tuesday, June 21, 2022 for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere – marks the beginning of summer and is the day with the most extended period of sunlight. Celebrated worldwide, the longest day of the year is energetically meaningful, and communities far and wide come together to honor the sun in unique and different ways.
The Meaning of Summer Solstice
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol” meaning sun and “stitium” meaning standing. At the time of the Summer Solstice, the sun’s path stops advancing northward and appears to stand still in the sky before heading back in the opposite direction. The Summer Solstice is a single point in time shared throughout the world. The moment for 2022 is 5:14 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
6 Ways to Celebrate
Much like the Winter Solstice in December, communities around the world have held special celebrations in honor of the Summer Solstice for hundreds of years. Let’s look at some of the more intriguing ways people celebrate this special day.
Knock It Out of the Park at the Midnight Sun Game
The Goldpanners of Fairbanks, Alaska, celebrate the fact that they are the most northerly baseball team on Earth by playing a game that starts at 10:00 p.m. and runs well into the morning. Because the sun is out for almost 24 hours, the game requires no artificial light and is called the Midnight Sun Game. This tradition started in 1906 and continues to this day. If you are in Alaska, head to this world-renowned game on June 21, 2022.
Light a Litha Bonfire
Litha, a pagan festival with roots dating back to medieval Europe, features bonfires and fire wheels. Celebrated on the Summer Solstice, Litha represents the battle between light and dark, and in ancient times, bonfires were built to honor this struggle. People jumped over the flames for good luck. For modern day pagans, Litha is a day of inner power and radiance. Some celebrate the day outside, and even today, some build bonfires or hold small fire ceremonies to commemorate the day. Like all of the eight pagan sabbats or yearly rituals, Litha encourages participants to celebrate the changes the natural world brings and to reflect on how those changes are mirrored in their own lives.
Dance with Flowers in Your Hair for the Midsummer Festivals in Sweden
The midsummer festivals in Sweden honor the Summer Solstice, although the festivals typically fall a few days after the actual solstice date. Swedes nationwide can be found celebrating, and from summer homes to public parks, there is a tangible sense of levity in the air. The celebration includes putting flower wreaths on your head, dancing around a maypole, sipping schnapps, and reminding your friends and family that the best part of the year is still to come.
Celebrate the Return of Sirius and Mark a New Year for Ancient Egypt
The calendar of ancient Egypt was based on the appearance of the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which the Egyptians linked to the annual flooding of the Nile River. Sirius appears in the Egyptian sky just after the Summer Solstice, so this date marked the new year for the ancient Egyptians. Wepet Renpet was the new year’s celebration and a time of great festivities and even hedonism, as the ancient Egyptians were known for getting tipsy on alcohol during this period.
Enjoy 24 Hours of Sunlight in the Arctic Circle
It is a little-known fact that the Arctic Circle is a moving location whose parameters are set by the Summer and Winter Solstices. Scientists define the Arctic Circle as the latitude above which the sun does not set on the Summer Solstice and does not rise on the Winter Solstice. It is the only place on the planet where you can experience 24 full hours of sunlight.
Count Your Blessings
Other planets have a Summer and Winter Solstice too, but only Earth follows a 365 day rhythm. For example, the far-reaching planet Uranus experiences 42 years of summer and steady sunshine, followed by a dreary 42 years of winter darkness. This Summer Solstice, take a minute to count your blessings that Earth offers a healthy balance of light and dark.
Summer Solstice Summary
However you decide to celebrate the Summer Solstice, because the energy of the day is strong, it is a great day to do yoga. The celestial events of Summer and Winter Solstice, and Fall and Spring Equinox, are the perfect time to tune into the rhythm of nature and harness the energy of the Earth’s orbit. Doing 108 sun salutations is a classic way to honor the rhythm of the culmination of light and to connect with the power of the sun. Learn more about sun salutations with this class. Happy Summer Solstice!